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A Wild One

Them 'Lins are pretty feisty, no?

I didn't think this series would be a cakewalk, really, especially since we had to face Anibal Sanchez after his no-no, Josh Johnson, one of the best pitchers in the NL this season, and Scott Olsen, who always seems to be really nasty.

Two out of three ain't bad.

The Mets took their spoils during this series from former Marlins Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd and Paul Lo Duca, which was a good sign considering Floyd's recent struggles.

And I would be remised if I didn't mention the extraordinary glove work of my hero, Lastings Milledge, in right field last night. He went 2-for-3 as well.

The Mets also benefited from some nice relief work by Mota, Heilman and Wagner, who are clearly the big three in this bullpen right now.


In that vein, the Mets really exposed the weakness of a low-payroll team like the Marlins. They have a bunch of exciting young players, both fielders and pitchers, each one of them very talented. Did I forget to mention that Josh Willingham will be giving me night terrors for the rest of my existance?

What the Marlins and other small-market teams lack, however, is the payroll to expend on reliable relievers or on capable starting pitchers who will push their best into the pen.

The Mets have spent a couple million on guys like Chad Bradford and a fortune on Billy Wagner. And while acquiring non-roster players usually is a safe bet, it's much cheaper to do it with minor leaguers than with veterans.

The Mets also have had the luxury of keeping Aaron Heilman and trading last year's folk hero Jae Seo for the bullpen, despite the better urges of know-it-all radio show hosts.

The Marlins? They have Joe Borowski, Matt Herges and co. Borowski has been awful the past two games and is obviously not the closer the Marlins saw in the first half of the season.

Maybe the success of the bullpen can't be measured statistically, but when the Mets put up five innings of scoreless relief against a team, it's pretty clear who has the upper hand.

Then again, statistics do speak volumes. The three mainstay lefties in the Mets' pen (Feliciano, Wagner, Oliver) have been worth almost 75 runs over replacement players on the season. That's seven and a half wins for the Mets that they wouldn't have gotten with riff-raff like Heath Bell and Jorge Julio going out there every game.

It's also quite important to remember that the Mets lost one of their top 2005 setup men to free agency (Hernandez), another to injury (Juan Padilla) and then lost Duaner midway through the season to a late night Dominican food run.

This bullpen is good. And you have to give a ton of that credit to "Slick" Rick "Jacket" Peterson and Bullpen Coach Guy Conti. Good for them.


There's usually not too much doubt in my mind about who to pull for during a Phillies-Braves clash. Hell, I don't wonder who to pull for in an anyone-Braves clash. Except maybe Braves-Yankees.

But come on, Phillies. You really had to go and sweep a doubleheader when the Mets would have clinched if you threw the games? This division race is already a forgone conclusion and the mediocrity in the NL won't really penalize you in the wild card race for losing.

So now we have to wait until Friday in Pittsburgh to clinch. And of course, Pedro's on the hill.


Just a quick note: David Ortiz's comments make it exactly clear why I can't root for the Red Sox either.

To rag on Derek Jeter with something along the lines of my numbers are sexy and little shortstop men don't deserve the MVP just makes Ortiz look like an ass.

And, you know what, that probably isn't a bad characterization.

This page doesn't devote a lot of time to defending Derek Jeter, nor do I think he really deserves the MVP, but he is unquestionably a better candidate than the surly slugger who was unable to lead his team to victory.

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Willie Cracks The Whip

I was a little disappointed when Willie Randolph was hired to manage the Mets.

I figured we should have just got the good deed done already and traded the entire team for Derek Jeter and his intangibles.

Hiring a man who, to our knowledge, bleeds pinstripes seemed like heresy at the time.

And Willie's first year didn't really do all that much to allay my concerns. David Wright started the season hitting seventh, while Gerald Williams wound up with a ton of playing time.

The worst part, undoubtedly, was all those bad pitching decisions. The decision to use Hernandez every single day was bad. Using Takatsu against Cabrera was worse. And sending Looper out to blow the game again in the tenth at Turner Field was disgusting and unbearable.

But this team, these marvelous 2006 Mets, is managed by a new and improved Willie Randolph. He seems to have a better feel for his players this year. He seems to have a better feel for the bullpen as well, keeping top-notch relievers like Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano well-rested.

Willie proved himself even more this week. Cliff Floyd was begging out of the lineup with injuries he supposedly had beaten. And it has been every little thing in the career of the immensely talented Floyd. The former first-rounder has come down with any leg injury imaginable. Every possible pull, strain or tweak was accounted for in his career.

Last year, Willie received a ton of the credit in Cliff Floyd's revival. He managed to play a ton of games and tallied 34 homers and 98 RBI, by far the best in his short Mets career. It was nice to know we had a formidable slugger in the middle of the lineup and a Steve Phillips move that might not have backfired as much as it appeared. People gave Willie credit. And he probably deserved it, if the stories that he forced Floyd to play despite minor aches and pains were really true.

Despite all of last year's progress, though, Floyd has markedly regressed. He is having what could easily be deemed the worst season in his career. He has missed time due to injuries and has been horribly ineffective when he played.

So now Willie is telling Cliff to put up or shut up. Play this week or we won't see you on the playoff roster. The Mets do have some capable outfield reserves, including Endy Chavez and Lastings Milledge, making Floyd's season-long slumpitude expendable in October.

In the end, that is a very important thing. I'm sure you all remember the injuries that defined the Art Howe era. Reyes was hurt, Piazza was hurt, Floyd was hurt, the pitchers got hurt... everybody got hurt. And Willie won't stand for that. There won't be any more small injuries that slow the team's progress.

And for that, I think Willie deserves a ton of credit.


Tonight: Former promising pitching prospect Oliver Perez vs. current promising pitching prospect Josh Johnson. Uh-oh.

And, on another note, don't you think Willie cracked his whip last night too?

Cody freakin' Ross?

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Maybe I'll phrase it this way:

You know, he is Dave Williams.

Tonight was a blip on the radar. Let's just finish what we started.

And for the record, I'm sticking to the story that Anibal Sanchez just threw another no-no.

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A New Day

Wow, did anyone else see that coming?

I'm not talking about Steve Trachsel getting the crap knocked out of him. That, we have been getting used to.

Nor am I talking about another lefty shredding the Mets. That's going to keep on happening. Unless, of course, Lastings gets more playing time, in which case he'll hit .495 against left-handers with a 2.000 OPS.

I am talking about Chadwick Pennington. He came out of nowhere yesterday. We figured him for dead, with his surgically repaired shoulder leaving him unable to throw his typical two-yard passes. But they were accurate.

Well, I guess Chad was just playing a trick on us during the preseason. Because the Jets absolutely beat the snot out of the Titans.

Sure, we had three lost fumbles, including one on a hit against Pennington that made us all hold our breath for the Patrick Ramsey era. And sure, Mike Nugent proved to us why you don't use second-round draft picks on kickers. Especially kickers who aren't very good. Nugent made the potential blowout into a tight game, but that was no matter to King Chad and his friends Laveranues and Jerricho.

Cotchery and Coles both looked great yesterday. If Chad can look as good as he did yesterday everyday, the Jets might be a dark horse.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Although, hell, why not? The Jets are on pace to go 16-0.


I wrote a piece on the first post-9/11 game earlier this year, because it's important to remember the tragedy and the great moments of unity that followed it.

On a vaguely similar note, the Padres will not pick up Mike Piazza's $9MM option for next year. Is it possible that our hero, especially after that dark day, could return to Flushing to split time with the Duck?

Who knows...


The Mets have an important series against the upstart Marlins this week. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but let's hope for that Magic Number of 4 to come down.

A sweep of the Marlins would do a lot of good for us. And I wouldn't mind if the Braves opted to help out by wreaking havoc against the Phillies down south.

Big ups.

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